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Prong-setting using files not burs


#1

Sometime last fall, around November, I remember Richard Hart (I
think) mention in some thread, perhaps about bench tests or
something, a fellow who refused to learn his (Richard’s) way of
prong-setting using files instead of burs. The chap kept ruining the
settings which caused a great deal of frustration and material loss.

So, that thought has been simmering on my mind’s back burner for all
of this time and I am very interested in learning this. Maybe this
sounds totally remedial but it is my wish nonetheless. I learned
stone setting from a wonderful jeweler in Alexandria, VA years ago
but must admit that the dang rotary tool gets away from me too often
for my taste. I have attempted the prep of a few settings with files
when I could over the last several months and today did a 5mm
diamond in a four prong setting just using files, which came out
very nicely. I like the control of the process and figure the time
it takes to remove the appropriate amount of metal without marring
the rest of the setting is less than having to repair the trails left
from a wayward bur.

The books I have only teach using burs and I would like to find at
least one using files. So if anyone can recommend one I would
greatly appreciate it. I’m in the Tampa area and might be interested
in taking a short class but cannot travel at this time to do this
since I am up to my ears in GIA courses as well as college courses.
Not much free time. Hence the request for a good book!

Also as an adjunct to the above question, which files do you like
using the best and why?

Thanks in advance,


#2

Actually, using files is also somewhat new. The real way is to use
gravers. Any old book on jewellery technique would illustrate the
method. In short, use flat graver to cut a notch for the stone. It
gives even more control than a file. You must keep graver razor sharp
for this to work.

Leonid Surpin


#3

Hello, Nel,

This is my favorite way of setting stones too, and it left my boss
open-mouthed in surprise, first, because of how fast it was (no
constantly checking to make sure you’re not about to decapitate a
prong) and because of how easy it is.

I could give you a blow-by-blow of how I do it, but I don’t know of
any books.

Susannah Page-Garcia

A junior this fall at the University of Texas at San Antonio, where
it is currently warm and humid.


#4

Files are great for settings large enough to get a file into. But
what about the smaller settings?


#5

Hello,

I suggest you take a short class from Blaine Lewis. He can show you
techniques that will prevent the bur from wrapping around the prongs.
While it is possible to use your technique on larger settings, it
will be fruitless on smaller settings. One thing that bears
mentioning, just because a bur is called “high speed” doesn’t mean
you should use it with the flexshaft running full tilt. It refers to
the type of metal not the running speed. Use a slow speed. Many times
filing a notch at the upper edge of a bench pin helps to place one
prong into the notch so that as the bur cuts into the prong it is
prevented from running around the outside of the prong. Another
thought would be to contact Gerry, a frequest Orchid poster and
diamond setting instructor, and request some of his materials.
Learning proper setting and flexshaft techniques now will help you
tremendously down the road.

James S. Cantrell CMBJ


#6

Susannah,

I could give you a blow-by-blow of how I do it, but I don’t know of
any books.

I am not Nel, but I would love to have a blow by blow of how you do
this. The burrs and I aren’t speaking at the moment. It has been a
rough week setting stones for this beginner.

Thank you!
Michelle


#7

Setting gems with a file:

I have a miniature set of needle files and I love the tapered round
file for small stud earrings. Larger stones I use three sided and
four sided files depending on the shape of the pavilion of the stone
and the thickness of the girdle. Start filing a little below the top
of the prong, and remove material as needed working down from the
initial cut. I also use diamond ball burrs for bellied stones, they
cut smoother than metal ball burrs and they last a long time. The
possible reason for having trouble setting with burrs using a
flexshaft is that you need a flexshaft that has full torque at all
speeds, as I learned after years of having the burr jump out of the
seat and mangle prongs. I particularly love my micromotor for
setting. It is so smooth and = I have such good control, I would
never
consider using a flexshaft. I can set a round faceted gem in a four
prong setting with my minit= ure needle file in the time it takes to
find the proper size setting burr and put it in the handpiece.

Richard Hart in Denver, where the weather has been my ally as I have
broccoli, Japanese eggplant, lettuce, raspberries, blackberries,
squash, arugula, mustard greens, collards, sweetpeas, and lots of
tomato plants doing excellent as I took the chance on planting at
the beginning for May, Mother’s day being the safe day to plant after
to avoid death by freezing. Now if we don’t get hail in July…


#8
Actually, using files is also somewhat new. The real way is to use
gravers. 

New is relative, I learned to use a file at G.I.A. in 1977, and I
have much more control with a file.

Richard Hart


#9

Doc,

Thank Richard. I've always wondered what those micromotors are
for. How do you use a file on a 5 or smaller point prong setting?
Ever use a Diprofil? 

If I can gently bend the prongs out, one at a time, file and bend
back, I do that. Otherwise I use a Krause bur, and you have to make
sure with any tapered tool that both sides of the prong are cut to
the same depth. I use my micromotor for everything except drilling
and any diamond tools that are larger than 3/32". I had used
flexshafts for 20 years using the foot controls, with the mircomotor
I found myself using the control knob on the control box. I usually
use a constant speed for all grinding and polishing anyway. I bought
a micromotor for about $400 with a variable foot control, and then I
bought one on Ebay for about $180, it has a variable control on the
control box, you can have the unit turned off, set the control to the
speed you want, and when you set on the foot switch it runs at the
preset speed. I had to Google to find out what diprofil was, that
seems like it is industrial, not for jewelry.

Richard Hart


#10

While on the subject of stone setting, I’d like to point out a tool
that we produce and that can save considerable setting time. The tool
is called “Final Touch” and is used to tighten all the prongs of 4
and 6 prong round settings with one tap. It consists of a holder for
post earrings and another one for lever back earrings. Each comes
with 5 punches to tighten the prongs of 2-10mm settings. The punches
have polished concave depressions in one end that pull the prongs
together and push downward simultaneously when tapped. It can be used
on earrings and rings (mounted on a steel ring mandrel). In use, the
prongs are started to come down onto the stone and the final
tightening is done by tapping the prongs once with the propper size
punch. Because the pressure is exerted uniformly and simultaneously
on all prongs, the stress is evenly distributed and almost no stones
are ever chipped. No skill is required to perform this task.

You may see the Final Touch on page 257 of Rio Grande’s 2006-2007
Tools & Equipment Catalog.

Ray Grossman


#11
I learned to use a file at G.I.A. in 1977, and I have much more
control with a file. 

Of course you have more control with the file; but try it with the
graver, and you will like it even more.

The main advantage in using graver is if you polish the graver, the
notch would have mirror like surface, which is very beneficial to
the stone appearance.

Leonid Surpin


#12

Dear all!

The very words of ‘polishing a graver’ sends chills down the spine of
many. This exercise is one of the hardest tool disciplines to
master…If anyone wishes to read my notes on how to ‘sharpen a
graver’…please email me at “@Gerald” and your slow-mail
address N/C to you, again!..

Gerry!


#13
Of course you have more control with the file; but try it with the
graver, and you will like it even more. 

I took a two week hand engraving class at G.I.A. in 1977, learned
how to engrave and how to sharpen, and make the graver fit my hands
right, ect. I only pick up a graver when I absolutely have to Not my
favorite tool. Would do fine if I never saw one again, but some work
requires the use of one. They always feel like I am trying to write
with my left hand. Files are always my friends, I like the feel of
them. They are my allies. Gravers and I co-exist at best.

Richard Hart


#14

It’s important to understand the history of jewelry in this thread.
Way long ago, when there was no electricity, there were what are
essentially hammers, and what are essentially chisels, just many
variants of the two (a file is a glorified chisel). And some others -
rubbing tools, punches and the like. Files were made by blacksmiths
and were more rightly called rasps. The only tool that one could
reliably use to do precision work was the graver. Then file
technology improved by leaps and bounds with the evolution of
precision file cutting machines, and we get to have those wonderful
Grobet files and stuff. Files are more suited for setting because
they have a long edge, and trying to snag a wire prong with a single
sharp point is not so easy. And then we got electricity and burs of
all kinds. All this meaning that if you want to trace the evolution
of setting it would be: gravers, then the availability of precision
files, and then the adoption of power tools, also with precision
burs. Of course, where one wants to place themselves in this scheme
is up to them, I’m just doing the history of it…

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#15
If I can gently bend the prongs out, one at a time,, file and bend
back, I do that. Otherwise I use a Krause bur, and you have to
make sure with any tapered tool that both sides of the prong are
cut to the same depth. I use my micromotor for everything except
drilling and any diamond tools that are larger than 3/32". I had
used flexshafts for 20 years using the foot controls, with the
mircomotor I found myself using the control knob on the control
box. I usually use a constant speed for all grinding and polishing
anyway. I bought a micromotor for about $400 with a variable foot
control, and then I bought one on Ebay for about $180, it has a
variable control on the control box, you can have the unit turned
off, set the control to the speed you want, and when you set on the
foot switch it runs at the preset speed. I had to Google to find
out what diprofil was, that seems like it is industrial, not for
jewelry. 

Interesting.

Someone gave me a micromotor along with the box and all the
attachments to diamond-cut jewelry (not something I’m very
interested in doing!) I’ll give it a try for this (above)
application.

BTW, I bought a Diprofil on ebay and, for certain applications, it’s
a very good jewelry tool.

This is the model I bought (I paid considerably less than this
person is asking.) Apparently the company no longer makes this model.

Ebay link removed. No Ebay links on Orchid please